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What primarily makes killing wrong is neither its effect on the murderer nor its effect on the victim’s friends and relatives, but its effect on the victim.

What primarily makes killing wrong is neither its effect on the murderer nor its effect on the victim’s friends and relatives, but its effect on the victim.

Question 1 under Decision Scenario 7 refers to materials NOT included in your text (they are from the larger hardcover version). To answer that question, you need additional materials. Those materials are most effectively gathered together in one webpage at this address with one exception; here is the page:

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What is not effectively covered on this page is Noonan’s position. His position is best summarized (for these purposes) as representing the positoin of the catholic Church (life begins at conception; all life is sacred; abortion is a sin and should always be a crime unless used to save the life of the mother).

The Ethics of Abortion

For purposes of our discussion we will be defining ‘abortion’ as follows:

Abortion = deliberate removal (or deliberate action to cause the expulsion) of a fetus from the womb of a human female, at the request of or through the agency of the mother, so as in fact to result in the death of the fetus.

That is to say, we want to know about the morality of uncoerced, human abortion—so for our purposes abortions are voluntary, deliberate removal of a human fetus.

Mary Warren, “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion”, 1973

Warren defends an extremely permissive view on abortion, according to which abortion is morally permissible at any stage of the pregnancy and under any circumstances.

Warren considers the following anti-abortion argument:

1) It is wrong to kill innocent human beings.
2) Fetuses are innocent human beings.
3) Therefore, it is wrong to kill fetuses.

She claims that the plausibility of the premises rest on an equivocation on the term ‘human being’:

Human in the genetic sense = being a member of the biological species homo sapien.

This includes not only functioning children and adults, but also includes fetuses (even very early fetuses) and living human bodies without functioning brains (e.g. those in irreversible comas).

Human in the moral sense = being a full-fledged member of the moral community.

Warren: The moral community is the set of beings with full moral rights, and consists of all and only persons.

If ‘human being’ has the same sense in both premises then one of them is question-begging. Either the argument assumes that it is wrong to kill something merely because it is homo sapien, or the argument assumes that a fetus is a member of the moral community. Both of these claims are contentious and would require further argument.

Warren next considers whether genetic humanity is sufficient for moral humanity. She asks “What characteristics entitle an entity to be considered a person [in the moral sense]?”

Warren’s list of characteristics (not an argument!):

1. Consciousness (of objects and events external and/or internal to the being), and in particular the capacity to feel pain;

2. Reasoning (the developed capacity to solve new and relatively complex problems);

3. Self-motivated activity (activity which is relatively independent of genetic or direct external control).

4. The capacity to communicate, messages of with an indefinite number of possible contents on indefinitely many possible topics.

5. The presence of self-concepts and self-awareness.

Warren claims that:

• any being who does not possess most of 1-5 is not a human being in the moral sense.

• the more like a person a being is, the stronger is the case for regarding it as having a right to life, and the stronger its right to life is.

• there is no stage of fetal development at which a fetus resembles a person enough to have a significant right to life.

• a fetus’s potential for being a person does not provide a basis for the claim that it has a significant right to life. Even if a potential person has some right to life, that right could not outweigh the right of a woman to obtain an abortion, since “the rights of any actual person invariably outweigh those of any potential person”


smilesmile. .


The post What primarily makes killing wrong is neither its effect on the murderer nor its effect on the victim’s friends and relatives, but its effect on the victim. appeared first on My Nursing Paper.

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